In my opinion, you should try to donate as much money as you feasibly can, even as a young adult. How do you make sure you are donating responsibly, and how do you make sure that you are stretching the few dollars that you do have to donate? Today on the blog I am going to talk about a few ways you can make your donations have a larger impact on the community.
Research The Organizations You Donate To
Not all charities are made the same.
You may think that you are doing a good thing by giving to an organization, only to realize that the organization isn’t as forthcoming about its charitable giving. If you are worried about your money making an impact, you need to be smart about the charities that you give to.
Lucky for you, we don’t live in the stone ages anymore. You don’t have to give blindly, and research doesn’t take a long time. There are many sites whose sole job is to collect information on charitable organizations and report them to the public.
One of my favorite sites for this is Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator helps you break down and understand where a charities money is going to. Now, it’s hard for a charity to have zero overhead, especially when you are dealing with a huge organization working in multiple cities or states. But, you probably shouldn’t put your money toward an organization with tons of money going to administrative fees while very little goes to their actual programming be it education or helping people affected by what the charity fights.
One thing I love about Charity Navigator is that in the Rating Profile section, toward the bottom, there is a section called Charities Performing Similar Types Of Work. This is a great section for many reasons.
- You can see if the charity you searched is performing at, around, or below the average for organizations in its category.
- If the charity you searched is doing poorly in their category, you can find other, more worthy charities for your money.
Comparison shopping is important when it comes to charities because you want to make sure that you are donating to the charity that is going to use your money in the best way.
Use Sites Like Kiva or GoFundMe
Crowdfunding sites are great for making your money go further. When people come together, we can accomplish amazing things.
GoFundMe is pretty well-known, so I am not going to spend too much time telling you about this platform. GoFundMe is a great platform, but generally, things are not tax-deductible on their platform because your donations are seen as personal gifts. This also means that the people who list their fundraisers here and profit from them owe actual taxes at the end of the year. If you donate to one of their certified charity campaigns, though, your gifts are tax deductible—but only 501(c)(3) organizations can take part in those.
A site that I LOVE to use for giving back is called Kiva. Kiva is not a typical charity organization because you are not just giving money, you are providing microloans to people who need it. Best of all, you can become a Kiva donor for just $25.
A person who needs a microloan shares their story on the Kiva website. You (and other Kiva members) browse the stories and decide who you will back with a loan from Kiva. You all come together to give loans to this person in $25 increments. They get the loan and use it for what they need it for, and then over time, they pay you back. Each loan comes with a repayment schedule, so you know when to expect your money back.
I have only done two loans, but I have never had anyone completely default. I have had a microloan recipient be late on their repayment, but I always got my money back.
Because the loans are repaid, Kiva microloans are not eligible to be tax deductible. But Kiva itself is a nonprofit, so if you give to cover any of their operational expenses while you are providing a microloan, that is tax deductible (but covering their expenses is not mandatory.)
Use Amazon Smile
This is a little-known fact, but you can donate to a 501(c)(3) organization of your choice just by using Amazon! You have to go to the Amazon Smile website before you purchase, but once you purchase from there, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to that organization. 0.5% isn't a ton (it's basically half a percent) but if more people did it, then charities all over the country would receive way more money from Amazon.
Just so you have more detail about what the purchase price is, Amazon Smile shares this: "The purchase price is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges."
If you are already shopping at Amazon anyway, you may as well use Amazon Smile.
Donate On Days When Your Contribution Is Matched
On big giving days like Giving Tuesday or even on the anniversary date of your favorite nonprofit, anonymous donors often pop up to match contributions up to a certain donation threshold. If you can donate during that timeframe, you will make double or sometimes even triple the contribution thanks to that anonymous donor.
It is crucial that people back matched campaigns up to the limit they are matched to. You would never want to leave money on the table! See if your favorite charities have any dates coming up when contributions will be matched so you can donate on those days.
Donate To Local Chapters Of Big Organizations
Sometimes it’s hard to see the impact of your donations when you are giving to a huge fund. Instead, you may want to elect that the money you give be donated to a specific chapter of a large organization. Many large nonprofits have chapters all across the country, and some have multiple chapters in a single state.
You can usually donate directly to a smaller chapter on the national website or on the local chapter website. Giving in this way may help you understand more fully where your money is going in the nonprofit organization.
Donate To Small Nonprofits
Not all nonprofits are as big as ones like To Write Love On Her Arms or the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many nonprofits, while small, are doing great things for the country. If you give to these smaller nonprofits, you may be able to see the impact of your money a lot more than giving to a bigger organization. Do your research! You want to make sure that you are donating to an organization that is sustainable. You also want to make sure the organization gives a decent amount of their money to the things they raise money for.
Even if you donate to a smaller nonprofit, you must still hold them accountable for how they spend their money before you donate to them.
Donate To Nonprofits In Your City Or State
If you want to easily be able to see the impact of your monetary donations, donate to a nonprofit that is close to home. This way you can potentially visit the organization to see the work they are doing, talk to someone who oversees the nonprofit, etc.
Keeping money in your neighborhood and state is also great. When you donate to local nonprofits that are headquartered in your state, you know the money stays in your state and prospers there.
Donate Your Time And Talents To An Organization
Last, but certainly not least, nonprofits need your time and talents. Sometimes you can’t afford to donate, but you can probably afford to donate your time. Many nonprofits depend on amazing volunteers to help keep their nonprofit afloat. Chances are you need some volunteer hours anyway, so why not spend some of them helping a nonprofit organization that needs your time and expertise.
To understand the available volunteer opportunities, they are usually listed on the website, or you can call the nonprofit and see what they need help with. You won’t regret taking a few hours a week to help your local nonprofits thrive!
Making time to donate your money and your energy is important. Nonprofit organizations thrive when we put money and time into them. Make sure that less-fortunate people in your community and across the world have continued access to these amazing resources. If you are in the right place to donate, please do so.